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Make a guitar sound like a sitar
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CDP
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3rd December 2005
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Make a guitar sound like a sitar

Many years ago I saw an electric guitar that was fitted with something around the bridge that made it sound like a sitar. I am trying to track down whatever it was. Anyone know of such a device?
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I might just be crazy, but maybe you could try multing it and running it thru a filter like Waves X-Noise? I've always found that way too much "noise reduction" kinda leads to a pinched, sitar-like sound on guitars. You might mix this in with the original...Never done it, just a thought...

EDIT: Sorry, was mislead by the post topic, thought it was a mix question...but maybe this'll still help?
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Or maybe you meant the "Gotoh Buzz Bridge" ?
All the new replicas use this one.
And I remember having seen an advert years ago, where you could put something under the strings of a regular guitar, but don't have a clue, where and when this happened.

Sorry
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Before he graduated to a real Sitar, a buddy of mine had one of those old Electric sitars

As I recall, it was a pretty straight ahead guitar except that the bridge was a flat rectangular block of very dense wood or maybe metal with no notches, so the strings lay across the whole width of it. That made the strings buzz with some high overtones.

It had some sympathetic strings, but because it was an electric you never heard them much unless you strummed them. I thought that part of it was kind of bogus.

The other thing was to put really light gauge strings on it, because on a real sitar the frets are suspended in 'mid air' so the notes are really bendy.
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where's a good place to buy a used sitar?

I'd be interested in a non-electric.


thanks!

I think they're cool and can add lots to a boring mix.


Jason
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i actually accidentally turned my dobro into a sitar for a while... here's what i discovered:

that sitar sound is, to my knowledge and as hinted to in previous posts here, created by the strings passing across a wide, almost flat bridge, rather than a thin "pin point" bridge like a regular guitar. to accomplish this, you can just replace your bridge with something that fits that description.

it's a little bizarre, but i cut the magnet off of an old car stereo speaker (a 6x9), and used that as the biscuit bridge in my dobro. without an actual bridge, the strings ran right across the flat back of the magnet and made the most wonderful and eerily authentic accidental sitar sound.

my 2 cents, anyway. it's always fun to screw around with stuff like that and see what sounds you can come up with, cause they can often times be a serendipitous source for musical inspiration.

have fun!
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I read somewhere that you can emulate that sound by putting an acoustic guitar near your electric guitar amp, record both and mix to taste. I'd never tried it myself but it seems to do the trick right.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDP
Many years ago I saw an electric guitar that was fitted with something around the bridge that made it sound like a sitar. I am trying to track down whatever it was. Anyone know of such a device?
The Line 6 guitars do a pretty decent simulation of a sitar.
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Attached Thumbnails
Make a guitar sound like a sitar-manzer-sitar.jpg  
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I was amused by the "electric sitar"/Zeetar (sp?) sound... but if I hadn't known it was supposed to sound kind of like a sitar, I don't think I would have guessed.
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I have one of the Jerry Jones Electric Sitars - lots of fun! The magic is in the bridge, but you could try threading a thin strip of paper between the strings (doesn't really sound like a sitar, but is 'interesting'), or you could take a flat piece of metal (like an old Zippo lighter) and use it as a slide, where the flat part almost lays against the strings. A variant of this (a flat, or almost flat bar) was used by steel players to get a 'steel sitar' sound in the 60's, and again a couple of years ago (what goes around comes around).

But if you really want that sound, you have to buy the instrument that makes it.
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I think Danelectro made/makes a sitar simulation pedal. It might suck, but it's probably cheap... maybe worth a try.

Someone is also making Coral sitars again, there is a local guitar shop here that has one.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Martin
you could try threading a thin strip of paper between the strings (doesn't really sound like a sitar, but is 'interesting')
thumbsup good one, Dave -

An old Duane Allman trick for getting a Calypso steel pan sound; I find using an extra thin, long dulcimer pick & light palm-muting helps create that Trini flavor too.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hopeless_opus
I think Danelectro made/makes a sitar simulation pedal. It might suck, but it's probably cheap... maybe worth a try.

Someone is also making Coral sitars again, there is a local guitar shop here that has one.
The pedal called Sitar Swami, does nothing at all to create sitar sounds. It's a very heavy nasty phaser/flanger thing.

There is a german company that offers sitar type bridge inserts for Telecaster bridges. Can't recall the name right now, but they used to sell whammy add ons and the like in he US. At present they have no us distributor, and their shipping arrangements turned a 40 dollar or so part into a 150 dollar or so part.

The Jerry Jones models are pretty accurate reproductions of the old Coral/Danelectro units. I'd recommend the "baby" since it's less expensive, and as someone pointed out, it can be hard to actually hear the sympathetic strings on the master.

I'm considering having a luthier build a solid body for mine, in hopes that it would improve tranfer of vibrations to the stmpathetic strings, and perhaps get the bridge placed a littel more accurately for intonation.
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Can you show us a picture!!!

If not anyone know where I might be able to find a LEFT HANDED sitar in NYC?

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groove Dog
i actually accidentally turned my dobro into a sitar for a while... here's what i discovered:

that sitar sound is, to my knowledge and as hinted to in previous posts here, created by the strings passing across a wide, almost flat bridge, rather than a thin "pin point" bridge like a regular guitar. to accomplish this, you can just replace your bridge with something that fits that description.

it's a little bizarre, but i cut the magnet off of an old car stereo speaker (a 6x9), and used that as the biscuit bridge in my dobro. without an actual bridge, the strings ran right across the flat back of the magnet and made the most wonderful and eerily authentic accidental sitar sound.

my 2 cents, anyway. it's always fun to screw around with stuff like that and see what sounds you can come up with, cause they can often times be a serendipitous source for musical inspiration.

have fun!
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FYI: The song "Sister Moonshine" by Supertramp is a good example of an electric sitar in a pop song.
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BTW, I believe the german company I mentioned was Rockinger.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDP
Many years ago I saw an electric guitar that was fitted with something around the bridge that made it sound like a sitar. I am trying to track down whatever it was. Anyone know of such a device?
Maybe you're talking about the Roland MIDI Pick Up and Guitar Synthesizer.
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The old Yamaha FX500 guitar multifx unit had a "Sitar" setting. Not exactly an authentic sitar sound, but close enough for jazz, and tons of fun in the right musical setting, playing the right scale. I suppose extreme resonance settings on certain filters might give one an approximation...but I'd have to have been given good money to force myself down that road....

There's a string of Indian restaurants along Sixth Street, and many of them have a sitar player, or sitar and tabla players, sitting in the windows, facing the diners and jamming...despite the wildly different approach to harmony and structure, when you watch them it's kinda great to see their attitude, playing what to us would translate most closely to classical music; just gigging musicians like a lot of us, suffering all the humiliations and joy that entails...kinda great, actually.


Cheers.

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jerry jones does the job
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oroz
I read somewhere that you can emulate that sound by putting an acoustic guitar near your electric guitar amp, record both and mix to taste. I'd never tried it myself but it seems to do the trick right.
That's a cool trick. I don't know if it will sound sitar-like but an acoustic resonating from the amp nearby at volume sounds like in interesting fun thing to try. Maybe even with non guitar signals reamped through the guitar amp. What about just a kick drum or maybe a background vocal bus?

Years ago I played with a guy that had one of those Jerry Jones suitars. Nice guitar and had a very cool sound. The paper weaved through the strings near the bridge works. Also try other materials such as mylar or tinfoil (through the strings not as a hat).

Another thing to try is single line (no chords) tracks put through a digital delay. Play with delay times under 50uSec, adjust the feedback into slight self oscillation and blend in to taste. Again not sitar specific but another ingredient in that direction.

Buzzy resonance is the name of the sitar game.
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I've got a guitar with a piss-poorly installed Kahler vibrato that sounds pretty close to those Coral/Jerry Jones instruments: Those big roller bridge saddles, combined with the fact that it was installed imprecisely, makes nearly every string buzz with that BRRZZZAAANNNGGG!

It's not a bug, it's a feature!
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I'd go with an open tuning along with some of the other suggestions. Something to help emulate that "drone" quality.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Poulin
where's a good place to buy a used sitar?

I'd be interested in a non-electric.


thanks!

I think they're cool and can add lots to a boring mix.


Jason
The best source I know of for exotic or non-western acoustic instruments is here:

http://larkinthemorning.com

They have two locations and as you'll see, their web site is friggen massive. In fact, it's almost too big and it can be hard to find stuff. Use the "search" box.

Definitely my favorite store in San Francisco. Good prices, great staff, and the most amazing collection of acoustic instruments I've seen except for maybe the musical instrument museum in Vienna.

Dave Peck
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Peck
The best source I know of for exotic or non-western acoustic instruments is here:

http://larkinthemorning.com

They have two locations and as you'll see, their web site is friggen massive. In fact, it's almost too big and it can be hard to find stuff. Use the "search" box.

Definitely my favorite store in San Francisco. Good prices, great staff, and the most amazing collection of acoustic instruments I've seen except for maybe the musical instrument museum in Vienna.

Dave Peck

Great site Dave!!!! Thank you!!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by not_so_new
Great site Dave!!!! Thank you!!
When you go to the site, click on "Retail Stores" at the bottom, then in the new window, click on the numbers when you see "View 1 2 3 4 5" and you can zoom & rotate 360 degrees on each image. You'll see some of the sitars in images 3 & 5.

Dave Peck
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